‘Many Questions But Few Answers’ - ATP Chief Uncertain Over 2020 Calendar - UBITENNIS
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‘Many Questions But Few Answers’ – ATP Chief Uncertain Over 2020 Calendar

Andrea Gaudenzi says tournaments must not come to an halt if there is a positive COVID-19 test.

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The head of the ATP has said he is still unsure if a series of tournaments will be able to take place across Asia and Europe later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Andrea Gaudenzi says there are ‘too many variables’ preventing him from planning ahead due to the worldwide health crises. All professional matches have been suspended since March but they will resume next month. On the ATP Tour, their first tournament will be at the Citi Open in Washington which will start during the second week of August. At present the governing body of men’s tournament has published a provisional schedule which only goes up until the French Open.

“We have no idea how the Asian swing or the European indoor season could go. It might sound obvious, but I can’t predict how the virus will affect us going forward, there are too many variables to consider,” Gaudenzi told Sky Sport Italia.

It appears that chances of tennis events being staged in China are slim. Recently the General Administration of Sport published recommendations that no international events are held in the country for the rest of 2020 unless they are related to Olympic qualification. Although tennis and other sporting organisations are seeking clarity before they scrap their events. Elsewhere, it is being reported that the ATP Finals in London remains on but the Next Gen equivalent that takes place a week before may not go ahead. Another event unlikely to go ahead is the Swiss Indoors in Basel.

Gaudenzi says tennis is at a disadvantage due to the global travel requirements compared to team tournaments. Some players have recently cast doubt over attending the US Open as they are unsure if they will be required to enter quarantine after leaving the country, which is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Marca newspaper reported on Monday that there are ‘ongoing negotiations’ to address this issue.

“We have many questions but few answers, because many answers are objectively impossible to provide,” former world No.18 Gaudenzi admits.
“Compared to other sports, tennis is at a disadvantage precisely because of its global nature. The players get to a tournament from every part of the world, and then move to another nation, if not to another continent altogether. Football and NBA basketball can simply devise a bubble of various sizes and shut themselves in to host their events, something we cannot do.’
“And the national governments aren’t giving us any indication regarding potential exemptions [referring to the quarantine] for the athletes involved in a given event.”

There is still hope

Gaudenzi, who took over as the boss of the ATP earlier this year, says there has been one silver lining to the pandemic with various governing bodies now working closer together. Tennis is guided by seven different organisations – ATP, WTA, ITF and each of the Grand Slam boards. In recent weeks there has been calls for men’s and women’s tennis to merge, but such a move is unlikely to occur in the near future.

“Over the last three months, we have had to make some decisions that were unprecedented in the history of tennis. We, the WTA, and the ITF were in conflict with each other at the onset of the pandemic, everyone was going their own way, but over time and up to today we have begun to work hard with a shared objective in mind, namely the safe resuming of play, which is the only thing that really matters right now.”

Whilst the future is uncertain, Gaudenzi says he is still hopeful. Admitting that the potential of a positive COVID-19 test occurring in tournaments will be something the sport might have to get used to. During the Tour hiatus, there was an outbreak of the virus at the Adria Tour which led to it being cancelled.

“I must remain optimistic, but I also need to keep my feet on the ground,” he said.
“We need to understand that a tournament can’t come to a halt because of a positive test, especially if it’s already in its late stages. This is why we need to keep our guard up, as well as to predict all possible outcomes, before giving the go-ahead to each event. The next two weeks are going to be crucial.”

So far the ATP has given the green light for five tournaments to take place alongside the two Grand Slams.

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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Image via https://mobile.twitter.com/ESPNtenis

World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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